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The Mayor Who Wouldn't Let Art Ruin His Olympics

In a stunning act of censorship, Corridart was dismantled on orders from Jean Drapeau just before the ‘76 Summer Games.
Former mayor Jean Drapeau points to a rendering of Montreal's Olympic Stadium before the '76 Games.
Former mayor Jean Drapeau points to a rendering of Montreal's Olympic Stadium before the '76 Games.AP Photo

For about a week in July 1976, Montreal’s Sherbrooke Street converted into a corridor of monumental installation art, aptly named Corridart. It was intended to both showcase the avant-garde of the Quebec arts scene—then as now largely focused in Montreal—and to act as the cultural component of the 21st Olympiad. It was destroyed on mayor’s orders.

Corridart was the creation of the architect Melvin Charney and the collective work of 35 local artists, with hundreds of performers signed on to provide entertainment along its route for the duration of the Games. Running nearly five miles from the far-out futurist collection of Olympic sporting venues in the city’s East End to the hotels, office towers, universities and major cultural institutions of the city center, Corridart was an outdoor art gallery and a conceptual bridge linking two vastly different sections of the city.